Security Guards and Citizen’s Arrest: What You Need To Know

two guards standing back to back

Since security guards are uniformed individuals, it might be easy to assume that they have similar authority as police officers, especially when it comes to making arrests. However, things are not as simple as they seem. 

NSG, Inc. is here to share the essential details regarding security guards and citizen’s arrest. We are a professional security guard company in Cincinnati, Ohio, that’s committed to providing top-quality security services. In this article, we will explore the topic of security guards and citizen’s arrest, an important aspect of security services. We’ll discuss:

  • If security guards can detain you
  • The role of citizen’s arrest and what constitutes one
  • Legal considerations for security guards making a citizen’s arrest
  • Best practices to follow for security guards making a citizen’s arrest

Keep reading to learn more about this topic. 

Can a Security Guard Detain You?

Security guards hold the same rights as ordinary citizens, so they can only arrest a person under a citizen’s arrest. Under this classification, security guards may only arrest someone if they see someone committing a crime. A guard can also make an arrest if they have reasonable grounds that someone is about to or has committed a crime. 

After an arrest, a security guard may detain a person until the police arrive. This detainment must be proportional to the situation, and the security guard needs to provide details about them, the company, and why the person is being detained. Once the threat no longer exists, the security guard must release the person. 

Before a security guard can start making arrests and detain possible criminals, they must first have a license and pass training mandated by local and state authority figures.

The Role of Citizen’s Arrest

While the specifics vary from state to state, a citizen’s arrest commonly means the legal ability of a private citizen to arrest and detain someone who has committed a crime. In Ohio, a private citizen can arrest and detain someone under the following circumstances:

  • The person has committed a felony, which is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor.
  • The citizen has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed a felony.

Since security guards are still private citizens, any arrest they make is considered a citizen’s arrest. They cannot detain anyone indefinitely, nor can they use unreasonable force to arrest the person.

Legal Considerations for Security Guards and Citizen’s Arrest

Any type of arrest is a serious matter. If done incorrectly or as a form of power abuse, then the detained individual can file a civil and criminal lawsuit against the security guard, the establishment, and the security services company. These cases can either be personal injury claims or criminal lawsuits, including illegal detention, unlawful arrest, and assault and battery claims. 

To avoid these legal issues, it’s important for security personnel agencies to properly train and educate their team about the legal considerations of a citizen’s arrest. It’s also important for guards to understand the degree of force necessary for certain situations, from small infractions to felonies. That way, security guards know how to properly handle arrests and avoid legal issues.

Best Practices for Security Guards and Citizen’s Arrest

For Security Guards

  • Understand the extent of a citizen’s arrest and what you’re legally allowed to do.
  • Wear body cams to help record evidence.
  • Provide detailed reports immediately after the incident.
  • If you’re carrying a firearm, using it should be proportionate to the severity of the situation or the crime.
  • Follow the correct arrest procedure by identifying yourself, telling the person they’re under arrest, and the reason they’re being arrested.

For Individuals Subjected to Citizen’s Arrest

  • Remain calm.
  • Ask the security guard their name and the reason they’re arresting you.
  • Ask for a lawyer and don’t give out statements without their instructions.
  • Write down everything that happened if you are able, especially if you think you’ve been unlawfully arrested or illegally detained.
  • If you have suffered injuries, ask for medical help.

Final Thoughts on Security Guards and Citizen’s Arrest

Security guards are still considered private citizens, so any arrest they make is a citizen’s arrest. This is why, in Ohio, a security guard can only arrest and detain someone if they saw the person committing a crime or has reasonable grounds to believe they did so.

If a security guard does arrest someone without following the proper procedure, detain them for prolonged periods, and do other things that otherwise violate a person’s rights, then the arrested individual can file a civil or criminal lawsuit. To avoid these scenarios, security guards must undergo the right training and stay aware of how the law works. 

If you’re looking for professional security services that can help you secure your property while minimizing liability, NSG, Inc. can help. Contact us now to learn more.